Creating accessible presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint is typically used to create slideshow presentations to show information in a visual format. These presentations can  include a combination of text, tables, images, charts, and graphics. If you are planning on publishing your powerpoint online it is important to follow the principles mentioned below. For assistive technology users, screen readers and Braille devices can accurately communicate content in a PowerPoint presentation, if the author follows the core principles outlined in Creating Accessible Documents.

Use Built-in slide templatesbuilt in slide templates

Built-in slide layout templates are designed so the reading order is the same for people with vision and for people who use assistive technology. They also contain all the formatting, such as theme colors, fonts, and effects. Theme layouts should be adjusted in the Slide Master to maintain accessible formatting for screen reader users. 

Avoid using Text Boxes as they do not show up in Outline View which makes converting PowerPoint to HTML problematic. If there are more than one Text Box on a slide it may be read out of order by a screen reader. Use a pre-set layout from the New Slide drop-down selection options, select the layout that best fits your needs.

Use unique slide titles

Individuals who use a screen reader skim slide titles to navigate. They can quickly scan through a list of slide titles and go right to the slide they want. Using unique slide titles allows them to clearly understand which slide they are on. Avoid using the same title for slides that have spill-over information, consider including additional information such as ‘Slide Title 1 of 2’ or 'Slide Title Continued'.

Make sure hyperlinks and tables are accessible

powerpoint hyperlinkScreen reader users sometimes scan a list of links. Links should provide a clear and accurate description of the link destination. Rather than providing the URL of the link, consider creating a hyperlink with text to describe it.

For tables, in order to keep track of their location, screen readers count table cells and use header information to identify rows and columns. If a table is overly complex, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide useful information about the table. That is why it is important to keep a table's layout simple. Keep in mind, that blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

Set reading order of slide contentsselection pane

Screen readers read the elements of a slide in the order they were added to the slide. This may be very different from the order in which things appear on the slide. To make sure everyone reads the contents in the order you intend, it’s important to check the reading order by using the Selection Pane. From here, you can drag and drop to adjust the reading order of the contents on the slide.

The Selection Pane button is on the Format tab, in the Arrange group. Select one or more items in the list.

Add alt text to visuals and tables

For screen reader users, alternative text helps to communicate what is important when it comes to images and other visuals. Alt text provides a textual alternative to non-text content.

Use the accessibility checkerpowerpoint accessibility checker

Microsoft products have a built-in accessibility checker which can help the document author test the overall accessibility of the document. The checker provides Inspection Results, feedback about the importance of each item, and tips on how to repair issues.

Updated: 01/17/2023 10:22AM